WESTMINSTER, Colo. (CBS4) - An explosion and fire at a townhome complex in Westminster forced the evacuation of four buildings on Wednesday afternoon. It is unclear how many people, if any, were injured, however firefighters said they believe everyone was accounted for.
Firefighters rushed to the Stratus Townhomes at approximately 1:45 p.m. and authorities said several were on fire when they arrived. A half hour later, smoke was still pouring from the building that was on fire.
"She told me that the building behind us exploded and I didn't believe her and so I ran outside and I saw the building was totally engulfed and then that's when I ran up to make sure that nobody was in there," said resident Jeffrey Garcia. "I believe it was a gas leak because they have been changing our meters, but we don't know what it is."
The Westminster Fire Department tweeted an urgent message in all caps that read, "THERE HAS BEEN AN EXPLOSION AT STRATUS TOWNHOMES, WE ARE WORKING ON AN ACTIVE FIRE PLEASE EVACUATE THE AREA IF YOU LIVE IN BUILDING 16, 17, 18, AND 19."
The Stratus Townhomes are located in the 8300 block of Sheridan Boulevard in Westminster.
"Police were kicking in doors and making sure that nobody was inside," said Garcia.
What caused the explosion is being investigated. So far it's not clear if frigid weather conditions currently in Colorado are being looked at in the investigation into the cause of the explosion. The temperature in Westminster at the time it happened was about 9 degrees, according to First Alert Meteorologist Dave Aguilera. The early morning temps on Wednesday had dropped to -2.
As a result of the explosion, northbound lanes of Sheridan Boulevard have been shut down from 80th to 88th. Drivers were urged to use Federal and Lowell boulevards as an alternate route.
Parents of school-aged children who live at the Stratus Townhomes and ride the bus will need to pick up their children at their school. School buses are being re-routed, fire officials say.
Firefighters from Arvada and Adams County were battling the fire along with firefighters from Westminster.
This is the second explosion in a matter of days in Westminster. On Feb. 21, a home was destroyed near 76th Avenue and Knox Court. Possible human remains have been found at that site. Officials say there's no reason to believe the two explosions are related.
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